CPJ honors four journalists at the annual IPFA

CPJ honors four journalists at the annual IPFA

The Committee to Protect Journalists honored journalists from Cameroon, Mexico, Yemen and Thailand at their 2017 International Press Freedom Awards in New York.

The Committee to Protect Journalists honored journalists from Cameroon, Mexico, Yemen and Thailand at their 2017 International Press Freedom Awards in New York. 

“Journalists around the world face growing threats and pressure,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Those we honor are the most courageous and committed. They stand as an example that journalism matters.”

Christiane Amanpour, chief international correspondent for CNN and CPJ senior advisor, delivered the opening remarks at the 27th  International Press Freedom Awards.

“You are all here tonight because you care about a free press and the democracy it underpins,” Amanpour said.

 Pravit Rojanaphruk, Afrah Nasser, Patricia Mayorga and Ahmed Abba were awarded for their commitment to advancing press freedom and for their fearless reporting.

“Thank you CPJ for reminding dictators that suppressing the media is never just a domestic affair,”  Thai journalist, Pravit Rojanaphruk said in his acceptance speech. “To defend press freedom is to defend very fabric of society.”

Rojanaphruk, a columnist and senior staff writer for Khaosod English, was detained twice by the Thai military in 2014 and 2015 for criticizing the regime and faces 14-34 years in prison on charges of sedition.

"Every reporter in Thailand knows that there are two areas that are off limit - monarchy and military," said Rojanaphruk.

During the gala, CPJ released a video highlighting the impunity against journalists. According to the Committee, 93 percent of murdered journalists are local reporters and in nine out of ten cases, their killers go free.

Cameroonian journalist Ahmed Abba is in prison on anti-terror charges and could not be present to accept his award. CPJ is continuing to pressure the Cameroonian government to drop all charges against Abba and release him.

 Last night, attendees wrote postcards to Abba who is facing a ten-year prison sentence.

“Journalism is not terrorism, so why is Ahmed Abba in jail? Cameroon must free Abba now,” CPJ tweeted.

Hollywood actress Meryl Streep made a surprise appearance at the gala to honor the awardees.

“I really came here tonight to thank you,” Streep said. “You are our first line of defense against tyranny and state-sanctioned news.”

“There has never been a more exciting, exhausting or let's face it, dangerous time to be an investigative journalist especially for women," she added.

Streep presented the award to Mexican journalist Patricia Mayorga, a correspondent for Mexico City-based magazine Proceso, who had to flee her country due to safety concerns and death threats.

“I come from a wounded land where we've learned to live with extreme pain and become accustomed to injustice,” Mayora said.

In 2017, at least four journalists have been murdered in Mexico, according to CPJ.

The last awardee for the night was Yemeni journalist, Afrah Nasser, who is currently living in exile in Sweden and has been recognized for her independent and fearless reporting on Yemen.

"Being a journalist in Yemen has always been like walking through a minefield,” Nasser said in her speech. “For me, being here is not to represent Yemeni journalists only, but all Yemenis who feel abandoned by world leaders and international media that are not covering their suffering sufficiently.”

Apart from the international press freedom awards, CPJ honored Judy Woodruff, the managing editor of PBS NewsHour, with the inaugural Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award for her outstanding work as a journalist for more than three decades.

A delegation from Doha Centre for Media Freedom (DCMF) led by the Acting Director General of the centre, Abdulrahman Nasser Al-Obaidan attended the International Press Freedom Awards and held several meetings on sidelines of the event  with officials from various media organisations, with the aim of developing partnerships and networks to cooperate and address the challenges facing media freedom. 

 

All rights reserved, Doha Centre for Media Freedom 2017

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